Zika Virus Found In More Common Mosquito; Still Unclear If It's Transmissible

Another type of mosquito is capable of transmitting Zika. Pixabay Public Domain

Brazilian scientists say a much more common mosquito than the one known for transmitting Zika is also capable of carrying the virus.

The mosquito species Aedes aegypti is the main transmitter of Zika virus, which has been causing worldwide concern over the infections’ ability to cause birth defects. The Guardian reports scientists at the government-funded Oswaldo Cruz Foundation conducted a study involving culex quinquefasciatus mosquitos, which are 20 times more common in Brazil, to see if they were also capable of becoming infected. After injecting 200 of the Culex mosquitos with Zika, they saw the virus circulate through their bodies and into their salivary glands, meaning it’s possible they could infect humans.

“We saw an ease of infection and an ease of dissemination of the virus to the salivary glands,” Constancia Ayres, the lead on the study, told Globo, Brazil’s top television network.

Public health officials say Aedes aegypti is the main culprit behind the spread of Zika, but other mosquitos have been linked to the virus on a smaller scale. Aedes albopictus has been cited as transmitting the virus, and more than 20 other species carry the virus in Africa, though it’s unclear whether they’re all capable of transmitting the virus to humans.

The foundation said more research will be necessary to learn if Culex mosquitos can transmit the infection.